Killer Macarthur to get extra time out for Christmas
NOTORIOUS murderer Malcolm Macarthur is expected to be given more time to celebrate this Christmas with his family than in the previous 29 years.
The 65-year-old has been behind bars since 1982 but is likely to undergo a fresh review of his prospects of being finally released from prison in the new year.
Since 2007, he has been allowed out of jail for a few hours on Christmas Day to dine with members of his family in south Dublin.
But this time, it is likely that the authorities will extend his seasonal parole to at least one overnight.
Macarthur has been housed at the open centre in Shelton Abbey, outside Arklow, Co Wicklow, for the past seven years and was transferred there after a parole board recommended the move to test his suitability for eventual full release back into the community.
A final decision on Christmas parole will be made towards the end of the week by Justice Minister Alan Shatter after he has studied a list of suitable prisoners supplied by the Irish Prison Service.
Last year, a total of 134 inmates were allowed out for periods ranging from a few hours to 10 days, and all, except two, returned on time.
Macarthur has been a model prisoner and has always honoured the terms of his temporary releases.
Over the past few months, he has been granted weekend and day breaks from Shelton as part of a structured programme of temporary release, approved by Mr Shatter.
A number of conditions are attached to Macarthur's programme and these are closely supervised and monitored by the Probation Service.
If there was a breach, he could be returned to prison immediately.
Since he was sentenced to life imprisonment in January 1983, for the murder of nurse Bridie Gargan, from Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, Macarthur's case has been reviewed several times by the Parole Board and, before that, by the Sentence Review Group.
But it is likely to be some time before a final decision on a full release is determined.
Members of the Gargan and Dunne families have been kept informed about Macarthur's temporary releases from Shelton Abbey.